Although ptarmigan were not confirmed to be present in the Uintas prior to the 1976 release, additional reports of ptarmigan in the Uintas from before they were released has called into question whether or not Utah’s ptarmigan population is entirely introduced.
One of the best things about Utah is that about 70 percent of it is public land. It’s not difficult to get away from other hunters during archery season. I like to do research, look at maps and hike the mountains within my hunting unit before the season. I also use trail cameras and a block of salt (which are both legal to use).
No matter where you live in Utah, there’s upland game nearby. You can hunt in the Mojave Desert for quail, the alpine habitats of the Uinta Mountains for ptarmigan, the agriculture fields for pheasants, the beautiful yellow and red grandeur of the Wasatch Front for ruffed grouse. Diversity is the spice of life.
I harvested five chukars in less than two hours! This hunt will forever be seared in my memory. I have a general philosophy that life is about the happy memories we make. My hunting companions performed their tasks flawlessly, and I shot as good as I ever have.
At the end of the day, as we walked back to the truck, a rooster flushed. Having played guide that day, I was the only one in our group who hadn’t gotten my limit. This one was mine. The rooster came down the draw towards and past me. I fired once, twice, then I fired my last shell. On the third shot the rooster folded.
When he served them up, the steaks looked pretty typical: browned on the outside, with a pink strip in the center, just how I like ‘em. I wasn’t prepared for how it would taste. I couldn’t believe it. I finally had to ask, “What are we eating?”
I’m not sure how either one of us made it down that slope without a broken ankle, nor who was more excited, me or the dog, but after retrieving the bird we both sat down for a good twenty minutes to catch our breath, admire the bird’s beautiful plumage, and enjoy what I’ll always remember as a perfect moment.
In addition to an unforgettable experience and the opportunity to put delicious food on the table, the Slam Program offers rewards to hunters who are successful in harvesting various upland game species.
All of the sudden we found ourselves surround by turkeys! As a couple of hens ran off, we heard the thunderous GOBBLE-GOBBLE of the tom wondering why the hens were leaving him. We watched as he strutted by just out of range and fed up over the hill. We quietly slipped out and set up in this draw again the next time out.
About five minutes later, Gauge’s tail helicoptered again. A lone chukar flushed in front of me, headed straight away; I pulled my gun up and shot once just as the bird was about to disappear behind the ridgeline. The bird crumbled in midair and fell out of sight.